What if we were to meet with timeless movie couples who connected through dance? Would they still be dancing, or would they be reminiscing over how they moved people with their routines? For the Dirty Dancing/Footloose crowd, the final stretch of 2015 offers German Kral’s Our Last Tango – the real life story of this very scenario.
The film is an astounding blend of genres. Sometimes it’s a documentary and sometimes it’s a silent film with extravagant dance numbers. Just when you think you’ve pinned the movie down, the interviewees merge with the behind-the-scenes mechanics of the dancing. Like an agile choreographer, we’re always on our toes as we watch Our Last Tango.
The documentary portions of the film chronicle the artistic lives of María Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes, who met each other through an appreciation of tango. They were a great match on stage and fell for each other. Their rocky romance created tension between them but, alas, they continued to dance up until their final fibre was plucked. Despite the extreme waves of emotion, Juan is still honest about his admiration, while María is still arguably feeling puppy love.
The dance sequences find context as we see actors reenact crucial moments between Rego and Copes. Rego remembers her life in a theatrical form, and it was filmmaker Kral’s intention to recapture that energy with the help of movie magic. This may sound corny, but we drop our reservations when we see Kral’s visions on screen. A duet that uses a flying system as well as another number featuring Rego dancing by herself (with the help of a partner dressed in black) will swoon movie goers.
Between the choreographies are “casual” conversations where the performers ask María Nieves Rego about the cultural importance behind her tangos and the performance spaces. This is also their time to pick her brain about Juan. It’s a joy watching María’s face light up when she gracefully sinks her way through memories, even though there’s zero subtlety to Kral’s staging. Our smiles truly beam when we see the dancers reacting the same way we are – it’s a mutual click with the movie and for those watching it.
Call me mushy, but Our Last Tango melted my heart.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie